2006-08-29

Frozen Skype Cloud?

I don't know if i can call it funny, but right after i published my previous post, at least 6 people of the "Skype Family", none of them Staff, chatted with me to tell me that the Users Online were dropping dramatically. Look at the red part of the curve. I have never seen a drop like that in the past!My first thought was "the counting system is flawed"!
Then Matthew Rabinowitz (USA, but living in Germany) told me:
"it looks like a supernode is getting nailed.. (or a bunch of them)... like a DDoS attack ... or something like it."
and some minutes later he said
"something happened with a few nodes that tripped and caused a bunch of users trying to find another"
Then i entered in a very long discussion with Hudson Barton (USA). We listed the following possibilities:
  1. A bug in the counter
  2. An attack on supernodes
  3. A general attack on the internet
  4. A major natural or human catastrophe (earthquake, nuclear bomb)
  5. Skype Staff resetting something in their servers
  6. Somebody blocking the IP addresses of some of the computers gathering the information from the supernodes
We ruled out 1, 3 (this would be known), 4 (the same!).

It was a very interesting discussion, while we were both watching the numbers going back to normality after a dip of about 1.000.000!

In fact, putting everything together, there are in our opinion two things left:
  • or a DDOS attack or similar
  • or Skype resetting something in their (servers / supernodes) systems
And, we think the second one is more probable then the first one! But why did they do this right after reaching the 7 million! Is that a magic number? Or is it something like the year 2000 bug?????

Finally, Hudson said (and i was authorized to publish this ;-):
"So the theory is that at 5pm, as the boys in Estonia were getting ready to go home to their spouses (or whatever) that they reset the count servers before turning out the lights."
Will we ever know?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

No no its something wrong with the servers in africa, we cant connect to skype at all. contacted my isp and the y say there is a huge fault somewhere. Emails also dont work.. However the internet still works.. this is weird. I also tried logging into yahoo, and gizmo but it also doesnt work, think something like a virus may be causeing this or many supernodes are down..

simon / South africa

Anonymous said...

Just found out that the SAIX network has crashed. Also MTNNS.co.za - the two largest Internet providers in Africa. So maybe thats what has caused this fault. It went down just after lunch,and the problem is still not fixed.

So no skype or email tonight : (

Jean Mercier said...

Hey, come on, think a little bit:
about 1 million people left at once!
That is one out of 7 (online) Skypers or 14% of the Skype population!

Africa doesn't represent 14% of the Skype users!

So, no the explanation is elsewhere IMHO!

Anonymous said...

I was just letting you know, what is happening in Africa. SAIX does not only work in africa it also works in asia. anyway lets hope they fix it quick, i miss skype already..

regards
simon

Anonymous said...

Not sure if it is related but there was a crash in some DNS servers today that left all .es web sites (www.elpais.es, www.elmundo.es, etc.) unavailable for about two hours.

Who knows....

Anonymous said...

Here is the link to the story about the .es websites and it has a chart of when it happened, maybe it matches with the one you posted: http://www.elmundo.es/navegante/2006/08/29/tecnologia/1156867527.html

hablas espaƱol? ;-)

Jean Mercier said...

Hablo EspaƱol (castellano) si!

No, although the Spanish DNS crash occured at about the same time, it begun some hours earlier!

And it didn't affect the working of internet: it only made the www."domainnames".es unavailable!

Anonymous said...

There is no indication whatsoever that the problem affected the operation of Skype itself, but rather only the count tabulation. It's notable that the count is a server-based process, while Skype itself is P2P (with the help of a flexible cloud of supernodes). Only a huge worldwide disruption could take down Skype. This issue with the count hardly qualifies as being even a nuisance. I suppose it would be newsworthy if the count servers (or their clients) had been hacked, but it doesn't seem to impose a threat to Skype.

Jean Mercier said...

I agree the failing of the count systems didn't probably affect the users (only some of us who were watching the numbers ;-). I was chatting with several people about the phenomenon and we didn't notice anything diminsihing the quality of the chat. So it indeed wasn't a nuisance!
And you are right: it isn't newsworthy for the press, because it wasn't a nuisance.
But i still think it was newsworthy for the different Skype fanatics! Including probably you, mister Anonymous?

Jean Mercier said...

THIS IS A COMMENT I MAKE AFTER THE CRASH OF AUGUST 2008: what we didn't emphasis on August 29, 2006, was that it could be the combined effect of people logging out and another part of the Skype population not being able to access the Skype Servers to log in!
Apparently, Simon, South Africa could have been right! (the first poster here!)

Anonymous said...

Kept hearing people talk about Voip and IP Telephony. Didn't know what it was but i found the Lloyds Business website and it shed some light. Not as exciting as i though it was gonna be

Jean Mercier said...

@Anonymous: well, the Skype VoIP has some feature almost no other one has: it is free from computer to computer!

That is exciting.

And it is quite cheap from computer to landlines and cellular phones all over the world!
Also exciting.

And it has video!